Screen women bosses seen as eye candy

LONDON • Playing a boss does not stop women being treated as eye candy in films. This is according to a study published yesterday that found "harmful stereotypes" still dominate the big screen.

Actors have hailed a widening of roles for women - including reports of a female 007 in the next James Bond film - but sexism is still rampant, said rights group Plan International and Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

Female leaders were four times more likely to be shown naked on screen than similar male roles, they found, after studying 56 top-grossing films of last year in 20 countries. "A woman 007 or superhero in film is welcome. But our research shows they are exceptions and not the rule," said Ms Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, chief executive of Plan International.

But even when they appear in powerful roles, they are often objectified, according to the study.

It found that nearly a third of powerful female characters were shown wearing revealing clothing compared with less than 10 per cent of similar male characters. Women bosses were four times more likely to be shown totally naked, at 2 per cent compared with 0.5 per cent.

The report also highlighted the prevalence of men behind the camera. None of the films in the report was directed by a woman and only 10 per cent had at least one woman among its writers.

"Girls need to see themselves reflected on screen and see positive and authentic characters that can inspire them," said Geena Davis, the Oscar-winning star of Thelma And Louise (1991) who set up the institute to address gender stereotypes.

"Content creators and storytellers in entertainment and media have an opportunity to support and influence the aspirations of girls and women and stop reinforcing damaging gender stereotypes."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2019, with the headline 'Screen women bosses seen as eye candy'. Print Edition | Subscribe